Self-Care, Spring Cleaning, and Career Focus

by | Career Strategy, Federal Resumes, Mindset, Resumes

 

I know that technically Spring began last month, but there’s something about the month of April that makes me feel like it’s “officially” spring, and makes me want to focus on cleaning, self-care, and my career! On top of a more poignant shift in the weather, I find myself spontaneously cleaning parts of my house that don’t always get cleaned on a regular basis. A drawer that collects random things. Closets that don’t get opened often. Random cupboards in my kitchen…

Then, aside from spaces in my home, I start reflecting on other areas of my life that also need regular cleaning that don’t always get adequate attention. For me, that looks like: my diet, the millions of pictures on my phone, my schedule, my thoughts, my resume, my career…

For me, all these things are a form of self-care. Because when my life (my living space, my head, my time) is cluttered and messy, I’m stressed out and less productive.

Can you relate?

 

Do you know what your career and self-care goals are?

At the risk of overusing the concept of goal setting, I’m going to bring it up again. It truly is a key to success. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my goals change, shift, and evolve. So, I think it’s a completely healthy habit to re-evaluate your goals regularly—especially your short-term goals.

I have annual goals, monthly goals, and weekly goals… and depending on how well I’m achieving those goals, sometimes they shift to the next week or the next month. Sometimes they change altogether. Some people also create daily goals.

Take 15 to 20 minutes today and jot down your goals: for today, the week, month, or even the year.

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The power of a well-written “To-Do” list.

I’ll be honest. I’ve always been a list-maker. I love lists. I love crossing things off my list. Sometimes I will even add things to my list that I’ve already done, just to cross it off my list 🙂 (Is that weird?!) Then when Covid hit, my life felt completely chaotic (and my self-care waned). During this season, my to-do list became even more important for me. It was ESSENTIAL to help me focus.

A couple tips I found helpful for creating a to-do list are:

  1. Make sure it’s manageable! Don’t make it too long. If it’s never-ending, it will easily become overwhelming. And that is the OPPOSITE of what we are trying to achieve here. What’s manageable to you may be different from what’s manageable for me, and it really depends on what the task. Some people say to focus on no more than 3 things in a day… but I disagree. I think it depends on what the ‘things’ are, and how long the tasks might take. Are they 5-minute tasks? Or 90-minute tasks? Half-day tasks? All-day tasks?
  2. Make sure you’re specific! If the things on your list are general or broad, it will be difficult to know where to start. And when you’re not sure how or where to start, it can be overwhelming. And when you’re overwhelmed, it’s hard to find the motivation to get them done. For example, instead of “work out today,” you might put “Go for a 30-minute walk.” Or, instead of “clean the house,” you could indicate which chores you’d specifically like to accomplish: vacuum the living room? Unload the dishwasher? Fold the laundry? And instead of “find new job,” maybe it’s “create a target company list” or “update my resume.”

The important thing is that when you create action items on a to-do list, it removes the items from your head and puts them onto the piece of paper, computer screen, or white board. This helps your thoughts from running wild and minimizes feelings of overwhelm. So if you find that you tend to have trouble staying focused and managing your time efficiently, utilizing a to-do list can definitely keep you organized and increase your productivity!

Prioritize your list.

As helpful as a to-do list is, it probably goes without saying that there are likely some things that are more important than others. I often write my to-do list, and then re-write it in priority order. Because let’s be real… it can be easy to spend time crossing things off your list that are important but not urgent, because the ‘urgent’ thing seems more difficult or more time consuming to do. But it’s the thing that is MOST important, or urgent, that doesn’t get done that can create disarray, even though we’re being productive! Example, for me, right now, is filing my taxes! Sigh.

And since I am a giant Brian Tracy fan, let me reference his “Eat The Frog” method. His method was named after this memorable piece of advice from Mark Twain: 

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

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While there’s more power and nuance to this method than meets the eye, it all boils down to this: Identify the most important task for the day and do it first. That might mean bypassing scrolling through Facebook or LinkedIn or your email first thing. Seriously, give it a try. I think you’ll be shocked at how much faster you get that ‘most important’ task done!

Be intentional about your schedule.

Lastly, schedule everything you can. Well, almost everything. Often, when I have small tasks that need to be done—or a bigger task that I’ve broken down into multiple smaller tasks—I will try to accomplish those in-between meetings or projects. But, for the most part, scheduling everything—even small things like phone calls, chores, and exercise—is paramount for me to accomplish the things on my list If it’s not scheduled on my calendar, it’s easy for it to get pushed to the next day. And then the next day. And of course, then, the next day.

So once your goals are identified and your to-do list is written down and prioritized, figure out where it all fits on your calendar, then block out the time on your calendar! I do think it’s still important to be flexible. But, having a structured plan for how you’ll spend your time each day will keep you on task to get the important things done.

Career focus = self-care.

Has the thought ever crossed your mind that nurturing your career is self-care? All the scheduling, planning, and goal setting I mention around tasks, chores, personal appointments, and self-care seem pretty easy to relate to and it makes sense to block out time on your calendar, right?

But when is the last time you made a to-do list and scheduled tasks on your calendar that relate to your career?

Are you giving your career the priority it needs on your calendar?

Do you give your single, most-important career document—your resume—the priority it deserves? Or do you see a job posting at the last minute and submit a slapped together application? And then hope for the best?

In my job, I talk to a lot of people about their resume and career. And many of them are applying nearly at the last minute to job announcements that require well-deserved, thoughtful execution of, at minimum, a cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile to compete for the job. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time, and not just your time, but all those people who have stacks of resumes to review.

We can help!

Did you know we have a strategy and process that will help you get prepared to the 90% point? This way, when you see the perfect job announcement, or one that will lead you to your dream job, you only have that 10% effort at the last minute? Instead of making 100% effort at the last minute, which typically leads to those stressful all-nighters to make it happen, you could focus your energy on that last 10%.

Think about that. You’ll be relaxed, more prepared, and you’ll have a clearer mind.

Would you like to know more?

Schedule a brief career self-care call with me and let’s chat about your resume and career so you can prepare for your next best move!

 

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Lyndsey Lehman
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